At first glance, backing Notre Dame as a 14½-point underdog at Georgia appears to be a no-brainer.
But Ed Salmons, Westgate sportsbook vice president of risk management, said to think again.
“Most people will look at this game and say, ‘Look how many points Notre Dame is getting. You have to bet Notre Dame,’” he said. “I think the other way. We saw in last year’s (College Football) Playoff game how Notre Dame was so outclassed against Clemson (in a 30-3 loss).
“This Georgia team is a motivated team. They want to destroy Notre Dame here, and I think they will.”
CG Technology took sharp money on the Bulldogs at minus 13½ and minus 14.
The Fighting Irish-Georgia top 10 battle between the hedges is one of several solid matchups this week.
Circa Sports opened Friday’s Utah-USC showdown as a pick’em. But sharp money quickly moved the Utes to 4-point favorites.
“Utah’s just a better team, and it’s an opportunity to lay a short number on the road,” Circa oddsmaker Matt Lindeman said. “They’re betting against USC coming off a tough (overtime) loss (at Brigham Young).”
Handicapper Kenny White, former owner of Las Vegas Sports Consultants, loves Utah.
“They’re a solid all-around team with a chance to run the table. I think they’ll be the favorite in all 12 games,” he said. “Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is one of the best in the country. He’s 20-8 ATS vs. Top 25 teams. On the other side, USC coach Clay Helton is 5-16 ATS vs. the Top 25 — and I use my Top 25, not the AP Top 25. I don’t trust that poll.
“Utah will handle USC, and Whittingham will put together a game plan to completely confuse (Trojans true freshman quarterback) Kedon Slovis.”
‘KenPom for football’
White published two well-received magazines this summer: Kenny White’s College Football Power Ratings and Kenny White’s NFL Football Power Ratings. He made power ratings for every team and every player and forecast scores for every game.
“One product I love that people are really gravitating to is my projection model that’s based off what the betting line should be,” said White (Kennywhitesports.com). “There’s no handicapping. It’s all about numbers. It’s the same thing as KenPom is for college basketball. It’s KenPom for football.
“It has updated power ratings for each team plus an over-under number.”
Salmons makes the weekly power ratings for the Westgate, and here are his five worst college football teams (out of 130): 130. Massachusetts; 129. Texas-El Paso; 128. Connecticut; 127. New Mexico State; 126. Bowling Green. UNLV, which is idle this week, is No. 110.
He took Kent State as a 10-point home favorite over Bowling Green, and the number has since climbed to 11½.
“Bowling Green is awful,” Salmons said. “Kent State is a really good team on the come, and they’re going to blow Bowling Green out.”
Salmons also likes Michigan getting 3½ points at Wisconsin.
“If this was the first game of the season, Michigan would’ve been a 3½-point favorite,” he said.
Salmons said the Wolverines are undervalued because of their 24-21 overtime win over Army, an underrated, ball-control team that took Oklahoma to overtime last season.
“A lot of these lines are made through computer projections, and I believe the computer gets screwed up at times,” Salmons said. “Take a team like Army. No computer can gauge what Army is about in a football game. They’re like Princeton was 30 years ago in basketball.
“All the computers hate Michigan because they almost lost to Army, because Army is not rated high by computers. Wisconsin demolished South Florida and Central Michigan. Two garbage teams.”
The Westgate took a sharp bet on Washington, which is up to a 6½-point favorite over BYU. It also took plenty of sharp action on Western Michigan, a 5-point underdog at Syracuse.
Lindeman also played Western Michigan (+7), along with Tulsa (-3) over Wyoming and UCLA (+20) over Washington State. The Bruins, off a 48-14 loss to Oklahoma, are down to 18½-point underdogs.
“Oklahoma is better than people think, and this number is pretty outrageous,” Lindeman said. “If this was the preseason, I would’ve had this Washington State minus 6. This Washington State team is not 20 points better talentwise, not even close.”
CG Technology also reported sharp action on Pittsburgh, Michigan State, San Diego State, Appalachian State, Florida and Nebraska.